The first string offensive line played well enough , better than last year but...
Backus got beat badly on a speed rush and Stafford had to throw the ball away. Raiola got beat and Culpepper got sacked. Actually , Raiola got beat several times , but only gave up the one sack. Peterman might get the sack allowed , but Raiola blew the gap. The interception that Stafford threw was caused by pressure up the middle , and he tried to get rid of the ball. Don't get rid of it in the deep flat young man.
Daunte Culpepper played well , but seemed reluctant trying to make anything happen down the field , and seemed willing to pull it down and run it. He ran very well , better than I expected. His passes were short routes that moved the chains. When he did pull the ball down and ran to the left , the one thing I noticed immediately was that Daniel Loper was out there to block for him , and Backus was still tied up in the crowd at
the line. These plays were not called , and from what I could see , the guard was not supposed to pull. Loper got out there and did a nice job on a few broken plays.
Matthew Stafford seemed to want to air the ball out , and did so. Keary Colbert dropped too many passes , but caught a nice one before the CB and Safety converged on him. Stafford had a small window , but nailed it. He was on target for the most part , but suffered from the o-line play and the lack of decent receivers. For those that don't know , Calvin Johnson was inactive with an injury for this game , as was Northcutt , Bryant Johnson , and Standeford. Aaron Brown in routes as a receiver can't be covered by any linebackers , he is just too fast. Stanton took advantage of that in the 4th quarter , and nailed him in the open field. Brown did the rest , making a defender miss badly with a quick cut back to the middle.
Drew Stanton took what was there , including on the ground , and almost threw one away when he didn't see the defender , but the interception was taken away from the Falcons because of pass interference. The intentional grounding just wasn't a good play , the ball never made it to the line , and bounced before it was outside the tackle box. Down 26 to 24 with under 2 minutes left in the game , Stanton drove the Lions down the field , and on 3rd and 10 , pulled it down and ran for it , picking up 18 yards. Hanson nailed a 47 yard field goal to win the game.
The defensive line played well , better than I expected , and Cohen was in the backfield several times. The line was off sides a few times , Avril jumped the snap count once , but I almost expect that with a more aggressive attitude. That will get better. Last year they seemed content to wait for the snap , getting lulled to sleep and pushed backwards. Not this year , so far.
The Safeties played well also , with Pearson making several nice open
field tackles , one on a run play where he came up and had a nice hit. Stuart Schweigert made a few nice plays in the second half , a nice play
to knock down a pass and a good tackle on run support. He played with
very high energy.
I thought Buchanon and Henry were stellar at the cornerback spots ,
covering very well , and making tackles. Buchanon did miss a tackle on
the running play the Falcons scored on , but he was overmatched.
The running game started out well with Kevin Smith , but the yards were not there up the middle or on the left side. Aveion Cason looked decent at best , but again most of the yards were to the right running behind Gosder Cherilus and Stephan Peterman. Allen Ervin looked good behind the second string offensive line. Then it was Aaron Browns turn , and I must say that he is fast. The line made hin look really good with Jansen and Salaam sealing the edges. If he could add some lower body size , he would be a very complete running back , but he has a receiver build. The touchdown run was a perfect example of offensive line blocking , the left side had their way , sealing off the entire left sde of the field. Brown could have trotted slowly into the end zone. Felton made a nice catch out of the backfield. Again , I must ask the question , where the
heck is Maurice Morris?
It was good to see Derrick Williams not fair catch the Punt returns ,
and try to shake the first tacklers. He wants to make this squad. Cason
looked slow , as usual , on kickoff returns , and Aaron Brown looked
good. If and when Northcutt comes back , we might continue to see
Derrick Williams return punts. His routes looked good , except the one
in the first quarter where he triped over his own feet on a possible
touchdown pass from Daunte Culpepper. Hanson scored the first points for the Lions. No thoughts on Jason Hanson are necessary , he is good , period.
Ernie Sims was all over the field making tackles again , looked like his
old self. Foote came up the middle and stuffed the run a few times , and
when he hits that line , it stops. Levy was even fired up , and I have
watched this guy just disappear on the field , but not today. He was in
the backfield , breaking up pass plays , and making tackles.
The one thing that struck me in this game to the point that I have
changed my mind on him is Aaron Brown. I think he needs to make the
final roster , and Cason needs to go. Having written that , I still
wonder what the deal with Maurice Morris is.